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What could increased speed limits mean to the transport industry?

So, the debate around increasing the speed limit on Britain’s motorways was reignited this week with the Road Safety Foundation raising fresh safety concerns. But what concerns us, and an opinion that doesn’t seem to have been taken into account, is the effect this change could have on those of us working in the transport sector.

Yes, faster speed limits mean there is the potential for increased productivity and an enhanced customer service through quicker delivery times. But if the speed limit is increased, then surely it will negatively impact on fuel efficiency and cost fleets more in fuel.

Travelling at 80mph, rather than 70mph, is estimated to use between 10 percent and 15 percent more fuel. Can your fleet afford that?

(It was also shown this week that the Treasury stands to lose around £600m of revenue thanks to fuel efficient cars – could this be the government’s sneaky way of making us less fuel efficient and attract more income through fuel duty? Just saying…)

With HGVs limited to 55mph, it may be that the increase will have no affect on fleet managers anyway. But if this limit remains while cars are allowed to travel 80mph, this will definitely cause a greater divide between HGVs and other vehicles as motorists wanting to hit their allowed maximum speed become literally stuck behind trundling trucks travelling 25mph slower. This will lead to frustrations and dangerous driving as motorists battle to overtake, and will see dual carriageways blocked and drastically slowed if an HGV dares to try and overtake another.

Some industry spokes people are saying this whole argument is redundant as everyone seems to already be driving at 80mph, with ACPO Enforcement Guidelines only instructing a fixed penalty when a vehicle reaches 79mph in a 70mph zone. AA president, Edmund King, says 80mph is “already accepted by most as the de facto limit so it is better to legalise this limit on the safest stretches of motorway and enforce it”. But there are concerns that if 80mph is the accepted norm now, 90mph will become the norm if the change was to go ahead.

Perhaps it would be more advisable for the government to listen to the fleet managers who want to see fuel duty decreased and money being spent on improving Britain’s roads, creating truck only lanes that would ease congestion problems and increase fuel efficiency.

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